By Paul Edward Parker The Providence Journal, R.I.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) SBA Chief Linda McMahon's main mission during her "Ignite Tour" is to raise awareness in the business community of services the SBA has to offer.
The head of the U.S. Small Business Administration wants business owners to think of her agency as a source of business advice -- including where to find lenders to infuse capital -- and she's taking her message directly to business owners.
Linda McMahon, best known before she went to Washington as one of the founders of World Wrestling Entertainment, visited Rhode Island on Thursday as part of her "Ignite Tour" to visit all 68 SBA districts in the country.
"I'm on fire for SBA," she told The Providence Journal in an interview. "And I want everybody to be on fire for what they're doing, so it's the 'Ignite Tour.'"
Rhode Island was the 34th stop on her tour. "I'm halfway there."
McMahon's main mission during the tour is to raise awareness in the business community of services the SBA has to offer, beyond what are seen as its more traditional roles of guaranteeing business loans and providing disaster loans.
"We have so much to offer to entrepreneurs who are looking to start businesses," McMahon told The Journal. "You know, entrepreneurs often have an idea -- they're not quite sure how to make that idea become real. So they need help with writing business plans and learning how to manage cash flow and how to market their product or service."
The SBA offers mentoring and counseling programs for free, including the Emerging Leaders program, she said.
"I've had business owners tell me that, for them, it was like an MBA," she said.
The agency's website, sba.gov, includes webinars on many aspects of running a business, and its Lender Match service to help connect businesses to banks.
McMahon talked about World Wrestling Entertainment, which she and her husband, Vince McMahon, bought from her father-in-law in 1982 when it was a small company known as Capitol Wrestling. They started WWE from a desk in their basement, and now it's a global company traded on the New York Stock Exchange.
"We've lived the American Dream, and I would like to see many, many more people be able to have that opportunity," she said.
And one of the ways to do that, she said, is to raise awareness of SBA's expertise through such conduits as her speech to the Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce on Thursday night.
"I don't want SBA to be the best-kept secret in the country," she said.